LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Family members claim LAPD officers did not need to open fire on Brian Beaird, a disabled veteran who was killed in Downtown LA Friday after leading police on a high-speed pursuit.
Police Chief Charlie Beck spoke about the investigation Monday and insisted events that night may have appeared more threatening from an officer’s perspective.
“I reserve judgment. You know, I’ve been doing this a long time and you have to know what’s in the minds of the officers, you have to know what they know,” Beck said. “You have to remember that whatever you’re seeing is not the point of view of the officers; it’s very different to see something from 1,200 feet, from a helicopter, rather than 15 feet away in the dust and the noise.”
Beaird, allegedly drunk, led police on an hour-long pursuit before crashing his silver Corvette into another vehicle and a fire hydrant. The collision occurred near the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Los Angeles Street.
He reportedly tried to exit his car and was shot by officers.
A law enforcement source told CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Dave Lopez that when Beaird got out of the car an officer shot him with a bean bag without alerting the other officers. The other officers allegedly heard that and mistook it as a gunshot coming from Beaird, prompting them to open fire.
“Right now that kind of stuff is speculation. Now, speculation isn’t always wrong, but I’m not going to confirm any of that, and we’re going to work through this,” Beck said.
“…Does it happen very often that a bean bag is fired and that triggers that,” Lopez said to Beck.
“I’m speaking very generally here: We have absolute protocols to prevent that. Before an officer discharges a bean bag the protocol is for them to loudly state, ‘Bean bag ready. Bean bag ready,’ so that everybody knows that the detonation they hear is not a gunshot,” Beck said.
The big question is whether the first officer yelled “bean bag” before firing.
“We’re pretty angry. It didn’t seem that there was justification for what happened,” said Beaird’s brother John in a phone interview.
He said his brother called during the pursuit and said he couldn’t understand why the police were after him.
Beck says there will be a full investigation: “These things take some amount of time and we work through them very thoroughly.”
In the meantime, the officers involved in the shooting have been reassigned to desk duty.